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Helpful tips

Tips for home working

Many of us are still adapting to the new way of working that 2020 has brought.


Homeworkers are making the best of the space they have, often in weird and wonderful positions. Without the proper office equipment, I’ve heard many patients recount their inventive working positions: on sofas, on the floor, on coffee tables, on the bed. A lot of people were happy to ‘make do’ initially, but as the first wave of the pandemic has given way to the second wave, it’s becoming clear we’ll all be working differently for some time. 

And I’m seeing the effect in my clinic. Back aches, tension headaches, and poor posture are all on the increase.

So, I want to share the advice I give patients to make the best of their home-working set-up. 

1. Take a seat

First of all: what are you sitting on? If you can’t splash out on an office chair, the best thing you can do is find yourself a solid chair. Dining chairs are best. How are you sitting? You’ll need to sit right back in the chair, with your mid back supported. Position yourself so your head is aligned comfortably above your hips. 

If you can manage it, sit with uncrossed legs.  Crossed legs lead to torsion through the lower back which can cause a painful ache and muscle fatigue. Your feet should be flat on the floor, or on a make-do step. Boxes of printer paper work well here! 

If you want to invest in a proper chair, my top recommendation is the Posture People in Brighton. 

2. Take a look

Next step: where are your eyes? If you’re working on a laptop, the chances are your eyes are downcast, your neck craned forward and your shoulders hunched awkwardly as you contort yourself into a typing position. If you work long days and weeks like this, it won’t be long before your body’s had enough. 

The trouble is that if you’re leaning your neck forward to read a laptop (or mobile phone) screen, your neck muscles have to work harder than if your head  - which weighs about 11 pounds - is upright.  A study from Surgical Technology  International showed that if you lean your head forward by 15 degrees, it causes your neck muscles to work as hard as if they were supporting a weight of 27 pounds. A 45 degree lean creates an equivalent weight of 49 pounds. That’s a lot of unnecessary weight for the sub occipital muscles at the back of the neck. The result is painful headaches around and above the ears, and even ultimately postural change. 

So here’s what to do about it. Place your laptop on a biscuit tin or some box files until it’s high enough that your eyes look straight ahead at the screen. Next, you’ll need to invest in a remote keyboard and mouse so you can type with your hands at a lower, more natural level.  These are relatively inexpensive – around £20 - £30 – and make a wise investment. Some employers might even foot the bill.  

To stave off the neck tension, you can also do a little neck retraction exercise which I like to call the ‘double chin exercise’





3. Take a break

At home, you might (or might not!) miss the casual interruptions of passing colleagues. These days, a partner might pop in, or the cat might remind you to feed her, but many of my patients tell me they’re now working more intensively - and with less movement - than ever.  My advice is to shift position every 30 minutes, and to set an alarm as a reminder. Even if it’s just a quick readjustment or a nip to the kitchen to put the kettle on, it’ll help a little.

4. Take a stretch

Even better than a trip to the fridge (for various reasons!) is stopping to have a proper stretch. You’ll know where your tense spots are but here are some exercises I recommend to my patients to keep them feeling supple.





5. Take a holistic view

It’s not just our bodies that are facing new challenges in this brave new world: our minds are too. I like to look holistically at my patient’s overall wellbeing, rather than just the particular joint or muscle in question.  Science is increasingly proving that our mental wellness is tied to our physical health.


So it’s worth asking yourself how you’re feeling.


Do you miss the office banter? Or do you get quite enough of it, thank you very much, via online video conferences? Either way: you’re not alone. We all have different levels of social need. But if you’re missing the team buzz, it might be worth forging new connections or re-sparking old ones while you’re at home.

Personally, I’m delighted to be able to see my patients face to face – with all the necessary PPE.

Drop me a line if you’d like to book in, or just run a query by me. I’m always happy to hear from patients. 


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